18 Nov Pennsylvania Bankruptcy Lawyers Should Assess Client’s Overall Well-Being, Not Just Their Finances
The Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 2.1 states “[i]n representing a client, a lawyer shall exercise independent professional judgment and render candid advice. In rendering advice, a lawyer may refer not only to law but to other considerations such as moral, economic, social and political factors, that may be relevant to the client’s situation.” Comment 4 to Rule 2.1 explains that “matters that go beyond strictly legal questions may also be in the domain of another profession….Where consultation with a professional in another field is itself something a competent lawyer would recommend, the lawyer should make such a recommendation.” (Emphasis added.) The comment references other professionals such as psychiatrists, psychologists, accountants, and financial specialists.
Often, bankruptcy clients are suffering emotionally just as much or more than they are suffering financially. In Pennsylvania, it is the duty of a lawyer to be cognizant of this possibility and to be prepared to counsel the client to seek the assistance of a mental health professional. This can be a difficult subject to discuss with the client, however if you explain to a client that it is not only your job to look out for their legal well-being, but also their overall well-being, most clients are appreciative and are receptive to the idea of a mental health consult.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has an excellent Mental Health Information Center online that allows a search for mental health professionals in Pennsylvania. This information can easily be provided to clients in need.
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